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Full text of "Linguistic Survey Of India Vol Ii Mon Khmer Siamese Chinese Families"

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65
Captain Neuf rille, along with nearly sis thousand Assamese slaves, in 1825, and continued
their journey to the Jorhat Subdivision, where they are still settled. During their
servitude to the Kachins they entirely forgot their own language, and now only speak that
of their conquerors, Singpho. They have, however, still a few books in their own
language, which is practically the same as Khamtl.
The Noras profess to look down on the Tairongs because they intermarried with the
Kachins during their captivity, but the difference between the two tribes is very slight.
Tairongs profess to intermarry with Noras, Khamtis, and Kachins, but, although these
tribes would accept Tairong girls as wives, it is not likely that they would allow Taironga
to marry their own daughters. The number of Tairongs counted at the Census of 1891
was 30L1
The Aitons or Aitonias, also called Sham jDoaniyas, or Shan interpreters, are said to
have been the section of the Shans at Mung Kang which supplied eunuchs to the royal
seraglio, and to have emigrated to Assam to avoid the punishment to which, for some
reason, they had been condemned. There are two small settlements of this tribe, one in
the Naga Hills and the other in the Sibsagar District. They are Buddhists, and their
priests come from the Khamtl villages in Lakhimpur. The number of Aitons counted
at the census of 1891 was 163, but there were probably more, who were returned simply
as Shans2
From, the foregoing it will appear that there were two distinct classes of Tai immi-
grants into Assam, both belonging to the Northern Shan tribes. The first immigration was
that of the Ahoms, who entered Assam in the twelfth century A.D, as conquerors, and
gave their name to the country. The second consisted of a number of small clans who
came into Assam at various times between the middle of the eighteenth and the middle
of the nineteenth century, not as conquerors, but as refugees from the oppression of the
Burmese and the Kachins. Of these the Khamtis were the earliest and most important,
and the others were small bodies of a few hundred people each, all closely connected with
them, and speaking the same language. One of them, however, the Tairong, passed
through a course of slavery on its route, and has abandoned its own language in favour
of that of its masters, the Kachins. In the few points in which Khamtl differs from the
Shan of Burma, the other modern Tai languages of Assam partly agree with Khamtl.
The language of the early Tai invaders,—the Ahoms—has now died out, and the
Ahoras are now completely Hinduised. The other Tai tribes of Assam have hitherto
preserved their Buddhist religion.
The languages spoken by the Tai people fall into two groups, which we may call, for
convenience, the Southern group and the Northern group.
The Southern group includes all the languages of the tribes whom I have classed
above as South-Eastern Shans, i.e., those who have settled east of the Salwin. It
includes Siamese and Lao, and also two varieties of the latter known as Lii and Khun.
<
Lao is spoken throughout the country situated between the Salwin and Mekong Eivers,
and between the 19th parallel of north latitude and the northern boundary of the kingdom
of Siam, Siamese, which does not differ widely from Lao as a spoken language, is
co-extensive with the kingdom of Siam, Lii and Khun are spoken in Kamghung and in
Kaingtung and the adjacent districts respectively. They form a link between the North ern
1 Most of tbe above is based on the note on page 2$4 of Mr. Gait's Census Report,
8 Tha above is taken from page 285 of Mr. Gait's Report.                                                                   k